Students across the nation, including many in Hamilton and surrounding counties, are participating in a walkout on Wednesday that is part protest, part memorial to honor the lives of the 17 people killed at Stoneman Douglas and urge state and national lawmakers to support and pass stricter gun control laws.
Below are some responses from students across Hamilton County:
One month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, we, the students of Chattanooga, will be walking out. We are walking out to honor the 17 students lost in the shooting and the families that have been torn apart. However, we recognize that we cannot do justice to these students and their families without addressing the underlying issues that Feb. 14 illuminated.
The Constitution enshrines the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — the first of which is the right to life. The highest duty of our leaders is thus to ensure our safety. We are walking out because of the inaction of Congress and the Senate in passing measures to protect us. Gun violence is a complex issue with many underlying problems that must be addressed. We demand fair discussions from our lawmakers; we demand public statements on gun policy, not secrecy; and we demand meetings with lawmakers to express our concerns.
Many of us students have been told that we lack the maturity to engage with issues such as gun violence. However, education serves no higher purpose than creating informed, responsible citizens. It is not merely our right but our duty to make a statement through our actions.
— Allen Liu, McCallie School, 12th grade
I'm walking out because during lockdown drills, my friends grab my hands in fear that this time it's real. I'm walking out because of the way my teachers look at us the day after a school shooting. I'm walking out because no student should have to put their life on the line for an education.
At some point in history, America decided that a school building was an acceptable shooting range. So unless we make it clear that our lives are more valuable than someone's right to an assault weapon, I will continue to protest.
— Allee Herron, Center for Creative Arts, ninth grade
I'm walking out because I believe that young people have a voice against gun violence.
— Abigail Becker, Normal Park, fourth grade
I am walking out for respect and for change. I want to respect all of the lives taken and all of the lives that have forever been changed by gun violence.
I am walking out for change in schools, and change on gun laws. I want a safer environment for my generation and all of the generations to come. We need change, for if we don't do anything things will only get worse. I want this walkout to help inspire many other people, not just students. I want people to be inspired to fight, to want change, to want a safer future.
I am walking out for many reasons, and I'm proud to be able to do so. I want this walkout to show that the kids of my generation are not going to sit back anymore, that we will make change if no one else wants to. I am walking out for respect, for change and for a future I will be proud to live in.
— Katelyn Burns, Sequoyah High School, 11th grade
I am walking out on Wednesday to protest. I am protesting the NRA, the politicians who have stood by and watched, and most importantly, I am protesting the silence of millions of Americans who have let murders be ignored.
I am walking out to make sure the drive for change isn't pushed under the rug like it has been for too long.
I am also walking out to bring attention to the sly acts of corrupt politicians who fail us every time they are bought off by NRA checks instead of the people's voices.
Finally, and most importantly, I am walking out to honor by my actions the 17 lives taken a month ago Wednesday.
— Mason Thomas, Red Bank High School, ninth grade